Archive for September, 2007

Vanguard Spanish Food and Wine: Best Websites

September 18, 2007

In the last few years, developments in Spain’s vanguard cuisines and wines have enjoyed unprecedented attention in American media outlets, particularly in Wine Spectator and the New York Times. Here are a few sites that cover this story from the Spanish perspective. Some great writing and some great photos. Easy enough to navigate with rudimentary Spanish or the aid of a dictionary. Feel free to add suggestions in the comment section.

1) Directo al paladar: “Straight to the palate” is a bit like a Spanish version of Eater or Serious Eats. Much original and compiled food content.

2) Lo mejor de la gastronomía. The editor of the Diario Vasco’s food section, Rafael García Santos, is a major food authority and also publishes a wonderful and comprehensive guide to Spanish dining and food products. Here he and his collaborators put the fruits of their labor online.

3) Conservative Spanish newspaper ABC’s online Food Section. ABC is one of three newspapers of record in Spain (El País and El Mundo are the other two) and has the best food coverage of the big three.

4) Salsa de chiles: Food blogs from ABC. A whole community of food bloggers and journalists housed under ABC’s auspices.

5) Liberal newspaper El Mundo’s Wine Section: Great national coverage including reviews, blog links and food/wine pairings. Be patient, it takes an extra second to load.

6) El aderezo: A likeable if modest food blog with some good links.


Hill Country: 5 Reasons to Go Texan

September 4, 2007

Baby, wallet and foodie friendly restaurant lives up to the hype. Here are a few reasons why.

1) Redneck Foie Gras: Beef shoulder had thick marbling of juicy flavorful seared fat and crispy skin that was scoopable like beef marrow and as unctuous, smooth and tasty as foie gras. In fact, the crise de foie I had last night was just like one I suffered after doing a seven-course foie menu at a poultry farm in Northern Spain. N.B. Orujo shots do not cure indigestion.

2) Best Iced Tea in Town: The Sweet Tea was minty and mellow with a long, smooth lingering taste on the tongue. The Mason jar vessel was generously if not 7-Eleven absurdly sized. And for three bucks, it is one of this City’s best handmade beverage bargains.

3) Sweet Soundtrack: If you ever wore baseball caps indoors after dark, learned the Greek alphabet not for Greek class or thought Phish lyrics were received wisdom, this soundtrack is for you.  Great blues, bluesy rock, Allmansy country rock (crock?) and everything else a seventies to nineties college grad or infant in a stroller would love (several were swaying to the beat at least as gamely as their parents). Especially enjoyed the Anastasio, Willie and Robert Cray.

4) Largest and most friendly barbecuers in the City: I’ve never seen such immense hunks of meat get chopped off with such gentleness. It helps that Hill Country’s barbecue station workers look like NFL farm teamers, except without the scowl attitude and criminal records.

5) PBR in a bottle: Enough of the canned beer and canned smugness of the trucker hat hipster. PBR tastes better in a bottle, and here they serve it that way. Liquor selection isn’t up to Blue Smoke speed, but it’s fun, reasonable and goes well with the live music scene which makes Blue Smoke’s citified jazz seem positively stuffy and cerebral. And who can argue with Texas wines alongside Texas links and ribs?

Savannah’s Sapphire Grill: A (Near) Flawless Gem

September 4, 2007

A few notes from a recent visit.

1) Quirkily Divergent Upstairs/Downstairs Clientele: On the first floor, seersuckered Atticus Finches drank red wine and fiddled with their bowties. On the third floor, a micromini twentysomething drank cocktails and fiddled with her nostrils. Befuddled golfer tanned tourists kept their eyes on their porterhouses. On the way out, the various crowds converged peaceably at the bar for a last drink before closing or starting the night.

2) Generous Parade of Proteins: Gourmet groaning board of a Chef’s menu included scallops on grits, foie with stewed apples, a delicious suckling pig, Big Eye tuna, and a large helping of rare beef. Spot on cooking temperatures proved the grill station’s acumen. Southern starches, herbs and greens were deftly and delicately deployed as “unders” and “overs”—no superfluous sides.

3) Masterful Southern Service: Waitress had a lovely lazy tongued Mae West way of speaking, but it was her perfect pacing of the meal and intuitive wine suggestions and service that will have us coming back. Barkeep and maitre d’ were equally affable and accomplished. This front of house can work anywhere and chooses to work here.

4) Dull Dessert Was Bitter Closer: A lone disappointment in an otherwise splendid meal. Chocolate mousse and raspberry confection was on the wrong side of La Maison de la Casa House, Continental Cuisine circa 1983: pedestrian idea and execution. How about some local fruit, and how about a pair of dessert tastes or courses? Perhaps a four/two savory sweet balance instead of five/one? That said, regular dessert menu options looked to be as good as the savories.